Kick the Can

September has come and with September, can Autumn be far away?

Dewy wet mornings
Golden dewy sunlight
School bells tolling
Get up sleepy head.

With September comes a harvesting. Not just the big harvesting of amber fields of grain, but the picking of carrots and corn from gardens in the backyards — at least the backyard gardens of my 1960’s youth and I am sure throughout the 20’th century and…

Anyway, days of September are still fairly warm and there are still some grand days left to play outside even in northerly places. There are many games to be played in the shortening late afternoons, and early evenings.

The Summer games of tag and similar; and of summer running and water sports give way to slightly different variants perhaps in children’s lives. Some kids lucky enough to stay out when the “lights come on” or in other words when the street lights come on would gather around for a game of “Kick the Can”.

“Kick the Can” is basically a version of “Hide and Seek” where there is a home base that is a tin can, sometimes filled with pebbles. The person who is “It” stands at the “Can” or “Home” and counts to 100 with their eyes closed or covered while everyone else hides throughout the neighbourhood. Then “It” calls out “Ready or not you must be caught” and proceeds to try find or catch everyone. Not only must they find them, but they must tag them before they can “Kick the Can!”

There were always different rules on choosing who would be “It”. Some people wanted to be “It” and some definitely didn’t. Sometimes whoever kicked the can first would be the next “It” and sometimes anyone who did would be safe from becoming “It”. Kicking the Can made a loud noise that could be heard by all the players, but the person who kicked it traditionally also yelled “Ally ally oxen free!” to let everyone know that they could come in to home.

It did get dark quickly, but that meant we could play outside in the dark a bit and it was easier to hide in the dark.

It was a simpler time perhaps when parents felt a bit more confident letting kids between 7 and 12 play unattended after dark outside. Granted, we were in a quiet suburb in a quiet Canadian city in the 60’s — but still it was in a fairly large city. Shortening days did make a big difference and at the time we did not have “Daylight Savings Time”.

I think that kids of the 50’s and even earlier had similar experiences if they lived in similar areas. I know kids in the country had plenty of room to play, but they likely had different sorts of places to hide and perhaps were a bit busier with harvest time.

We all have memories of when we were young and perhaps they might seem very “normal” and nothing to write home about, but people younger than us might be interested in how the little things have changed as well as the big things. For that matter, sometimes people older might be interested in how their children and grandchildren really see the world.

It is through our recording of everyday activities that we share a bit of our life with those who follow.

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